chapter  5
Warfare and external relations in the middle Roman Republic
Pages 10

The course of Roman expansion has been outlined above (pp. 27-31). The focus in this chapter will be on the warfare of the period 264-133 BC, for several reasons. First, this was the period of the decisive wars which established Roman mastery of the Mediterranean world. Second, it was a period of political stability. The aspirations of individual members of the elite were already an important element, but these were held in check by their rivals and by the collective interest. In the first century, by contrast, the unfettered ambitions of individual dynasts like Pompey and Caesar were a major motive force in the wars of expansion. Third, the period is comparatively well documented (although our information does have tantalizing gaps and limitations, notably the shortage of contemporary Roman witnesses).1